Some fathers nail the job, regularly pulling off seemingly perfect acts of heroism and self-sacrifice. Too many, however, stumble through fatherhood, with highs, lows and unmentionable moments remaining forever locked up in the vaults of their childrens’ minds, sure to lead to uncomfortable therapy sessions a few years down the road.
At some point every father is likely to question their parenting abilities and whether or not they are guiding their kids in the best direction and doing the best they can. Of course, they could be unscrupulous, irresponsible, and apathetic, but these kinds of men are thankfully amongst the minority.
It is much more likely that they are doing their best to provide for their family, sacrificing their own well being to ensure that they get the very things that they did not get. They may not be perfect – very few of us are – but they are likely doing the best with what they know.
No matter how far off track a father is, the following list proves that even if a dad veers off for a small time, they can always redeem themselves in the eyes of their children, or even the Galaxy.
10: Clark Griswold (National Lampoon’s Vacation)
Clark Griswold may not be the smartest of dads, but his heart is in the right place when it comes to his kids. He wants nothing more for them than to enjoy their summer and winter vacations wherever they might be going. Whether it is his dire attempt to light up the home for Christmas, or pulling a weapon a security guard to get on a rollercoaster, his drive has no bounds.
What parent has not wanted to do this for their kids? Most of us want to be able to give the best to our kids and are at the very least willing to risk our retirement funds to support their fun. Griswold may not know when enough is enough, but you have never met as determined of a people pleaser.
9: Chris Gardner (Pursuit Of Happyness)
Chris Gardner shows men around the world that regardless of how many, or how few, pennies you have to your name, you can still be a good role model for your kids. After the IRS comes to his door, he is made homeless and has to take his boy with him.
Despite the adversity he faces, he is unwilling to compromise who he is and learns how to better himself as a salesman, whilst hiding his circumstances from the world at large. Throughout the movie, which is based upon an autobiographical account of Gardner’s life, there are moments of great dialogue between the challenged businessman and his son. He shows his son the value of persistence, and eventually lands himself the full-time position he had hoped for.
8: Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Darth Vader abandoned his kids, beat up all their friends, was dominant and dictatorial, and was never willing to pay any kind of child support. This is not the CV of a good dad, but sometimes it is in the moments of greatest difficulty that our light shines.
It is in Vader’s final moments that he finally makes the choice that he should have made years before. Of course, if he had made the right choice back when the kids were born, we would only have seen episodes I-III – the others would never have been produced. So Darth Vader was good for us, because his evil self provided us with the best movies of the franchise.
In the end he did right by Luke and Leia, lifting up Darth Sidious and hurling him to oblivion. That surely ranks him up there as the kind of dad who has redeemed himself.
7: Jor-El (Man Of Steel)
You are most definitely a good dad when your very existence is on the line and all you can think about is getting your son into an escape pod. With all that unfolds around Jor-El in the final days of Krypton, it is amazing to see what he is able to get in order for his young son. As our planet faces similar, and possibly imminent threats, there are probably some things that we can learn from Jor-El when considering future generations.
6: Daniel Hilliard (Mrs. Doubtfire)
The absence of a father from the life of a child can leave an impact well in to the future of the impressionable young mind. Some parents are willing to do whatever they can to be able to spend time with their children. Daniel Hillard is one of those men, willing to dress up as an old lady and fake a whole life to be close to them.
Seen as immature by his ex-wife Miranda, he wants to prove at least to himself that he can be a good parent. Throughout his whacky adventure he learns a lot about himself, and by the end of the movie has proven that he can be responsible and fun at the same time.
5: George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life)
You may not be one for the old movies, but almost everyone has seen It’s A Wonderful Life at least once, and the values espoused by George hold equally true for any man today. He tries everything that he can to be there for his kids, groveling for loans and praying to angels for guidance.
He could be seen to be a bit unstable, willing to commit suicide so that his kids can live a better life. But what parent cannot relate to the struggles of bringing up a family, even more so in times when there is an economic depression.
This dad shows to us that even when life is its bleakest that there are ways out of it, if we only ask the right people the right questions. Looking back on his life, he realizes the valuable role he has played in the life of many and chooses to continue onwards in the face of his challenges.
4: Mufasa (The Lion King)
You can take a lion out of its pride, but you can’t take the pride out of the lion. When you get a lippy, overly-confident son like Simba, you need to apply a little bit of tough parenting to bring him down a notch. This is even more important when that young child will one day be king and have to make choices that affect millions of others.
Mufasa was equal parts tender, loving, and playful, in the end lays down his life for Simba. His physical body did not survive too long in the movie, but he played just as much of a guiding role for the young lion from beyond the grave.
3: Noah Levenstein (American Pie)
It doesn’t matter how embarrassing the sexual injury that Jim sustains, his father Noah Levenstein is willing to be present for him, without judgements. That says a lot when you consider the nature of Jim’s moments, such as gluing his hands to his penis with superglue.
Noah is also right there to dispense his wisdom about the birds, the bees and perhaps most importantly, masturbation. How many of us were given magazines from our parents? We often learned behind closed doors. Not that Jim did not attempt to do that; it was just that Noah was a little too transparent about his own sexual experimentation.
2: Bryan Mills (Taken 1 & 2)
When your dad is Liam Neeson, you are more than likely to make it to the end of the movie. In the Taken franchise, Neeson plays Bryan Mills, who just happens to be a retired CIA agent. So when that agent’s daughter is abducted to be sold into the sex trade, it is up to Neeson to step in and do something about it. And do something he does.
Though the total kill count is up for debate, he makes his way through the movie shooting or stabbing anyone that gets in the way of getting his daughter back. He doesn’t win any brownie points for being compassionate to the slavers, but he is definitely affectionate towards his daughter. Now, if only there were more people like that dealing with the real world of sex slavery.
1: Henry Jones (Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade)
The desire for adventure and a passion for history must be genetic traits, passed down through the fraternal line. Indiana Jones has always seemed like the first of his kind, but then in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade we discover that he has a father, and that father has been chasing down treasures for much much longer.
To his credit, Indy has a little more of the warrior in him, though poppa makes up for it with his intelligence, wit, and quick thinking in the face of danger. Not only that, they do share a bit of a talent with the ladies, realizing that in this movie they have both shared some passionate moments with a Nazi bombshell.